Long life noodles, also known as 长寿面 (cháng shòu miàn) or 伊面 (yī miàn), are a common sight during birthdays and Lunar New Year banquets. Chinese people believe that the longer the noodles, the longer the consumer’s life will be.
Made from stir-fried Asian-style wheat noodles, these noodles are never shortened by the chef in order to maintain their length. If the diner can slurp the noodles without biting through the strands, it’s even more auspicious.
Aside from the noodles, the rest of the ingredients are very flexible. Some prefer their noodles to be dry with a simple side of Chinese chives. Others might want their noodles in a piping broth filled with fatty duck meat!
Where did this tradition come from?
The tradition of eating long life noodles goes all the way back to the Han Dynasty. The dynasty’s emperor, Emperor Wu, believed that people with longer faces lived longer lives.
The Han people then began to eat long noodles during special occasions as a metaphor for longevity. This is because the character 面 (miàn) means "face," but it also means "noodle."
The people of the Anhui province believe that the noodle acts as a metaphor for good riches. Old Chinese coins had holes in the center. As a result, the noodles were seen as strings that could collect those coins to bring riches to the diner.
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